Critical Overview

(Short Stories for Students)

Primarily known as a novelist Chinua Achebe has published relatively few short stories. His only collection of stories, Girls At War, and Other Stories, appeared in 1973 and brought together stories written over the preceding twenty years. ''Vengeful Creditor,'' which appears in this collection, had first been published in the inaugural issue of the journal Okike: A Nigerian Journal of New Writing. Ohike itself was founded by Achebe, and he has continued to edit the magazine throughout his stays in the United States.

In general, critical opinion on Achebe is overwhelmingly positive. He has claimed a place as one of Africa's leading writers, and Things Fall Apart is now considered a classic of African literature. Critics laud Achebe's ability to meld his pride in his own culture with a deep respect for Western literary traditions. Things Fall Apart, for instance, is a story of a traditional African village in which the inclusion of British influence is an important theme, but by no means the defining characteristic of the story.

Critics have noted Achebe's allusions to Western classics in his novels, specifically the epics of Greek mythology and the modernism of Eliot and Yeats (from whose poem "The Second Coming" the title of Things Fall Apart is taken). The primary importance of Achebe's works, to many critics, is his simple dictum that Africans had...

(The entire section is 459 words.)